Recognizing that people in the Czech Republic are not aware of the threats that urban development and expansion of commercial agriculture pose to animals in their country, Pavel launched a program to increase awareness about endangered species and the importance of biodiversity and habitat preservation.
The New Idea
Pavel encourages Czechs to be stewards, not destroyers, of nature, emphasizing the importance of preserving biodiversity and protecting habitat. His efforts focus not only on promoting participation in environmental protection, but also on designing appropriate technology that will reduce the impact of human encroachment into the habitats of endangered species. Pavel's organization, Protection of Fauna, runs an array of programs that guard against illegal activities such as hunting, poaching, animal trafficking, as well as unintended man-made threats to animal life such as electrical lines, poles, and roads. Firstly, he has established an emergency rescue center to rehabilitate and reintroduce injured birds and animals. Secondly, his organization is working with the government to introduce appropriate technology that will aid in animal protection. Finally, through environmental education and involvement of local people, Protection of Fauna seeks to highlight the importance of biodiversity and habitat preservation in the Czech Republic. Using these strategies and leading by example, Pavel encourages people to reduce negative human impact on the natural world.
In the Czech Republic, the issues of endangered species and their extinction have been out of the public eye. Only a handful of environmentalists are addressing these problems. Severe environmental degradation and habitat destruction have resulted in the extinction of various species of flora and fauna.
Birds and animals are confronted with a multitude of sources of threats. Economic and financial pressures have lead to poaching, trafficking, and forced domestication. Hunters are motivated by the promise of easy money, trophies, or the mere sport of pulling the trigger or emptying a nest. Czech falconers who were legally entitled to own sixty eagles, domesticated them and turned these rare birds into 'trained monkeys' destined to be sold. As a result, eagles are now extinct in the Czech Republic, and the same fate is anticipated for some falcon species as well. Each year, thousands of birds lose their lives to urban development. They are injured or killed on electrical power lines or by high voltage poles and transformers. Finally, birds and animals are losing their natural nesting grounds and habitats to commercial agriculture. Ironically, while there is a law that protects endangered species, the state continues to sanction the destruction of wetlands, meadows, and other natural habitats in support of economic growth.
Protection of Fauna offers a range of environmental education and species protection programs. For example, Pavel runs a program to protect birds from high voltage electrical lines. Pavel involves citizens in gauging the numbers of birds injured and killed due to electrical exposure. In this way, people became aware of the scope of the problem and are motivated to design a solution. Pavel and his volunteers work with state officials to introduce protective sheets to shield birds from existing power lines. For newly installed electrical systems, Protection of Fauna convinced the government to construct poles with new materials and design. This project was a major accomplishment and gained further support through publicity in local and regional newspapers.
Another critical component of Pavel's work is a twenty-four hour emergency station he established for wild animals that are injured by cars, gunfire, or exposure to electrical currents. This project aims to develop practical methods for protecting all endangered species through monitoring, check points, emergency transfers, or building and installation of nesting platforms and cots. Since 1998, Pavel and his team have treated more than five hundred animals, of which 60 percent were re-introduced into their natural setting following treatment and care. Animals that required lengthy recovery periods were looked after in one of thirty volunteer homes.
Pavel and his team have also joined forces with law enforcement agencies and international environmental groups to monitor and fight illegal animal trade. Czech falconers are involved in the illegal snatching of predators from their nest in order to sell them in Western Europe and in Arab countries. Protection of Fauna volunteers have committed to watching the nests of rare species, which requires twenty-four hour observation during nesting periods.
To educate the public and draw attention to the plight of endangered species, Pavel has launched the "They Survived the Year 2000" campaign. While many people know that elephants and whales are endangered, few are informed about species in the Czech Republic that face similar population declines. Pavel has been successful in securing media support and advertising space for the campaign. An advertising agency donated three hundred billboards to be erected at key sites across the country. The British Embassy has permitted Protection of Fauna to use its logo as a guarantor of the campaign and also offered to organize an event at the Protection of Fauna premises. As part of this event Pavel is developing a new ecological program for television and a series of exhibitions and concerts to increase public awareness.
Pavel grew up in the small town of Votice in the Czech Republic. As the son of gamekeepers, he developed a deep respect and love for the natural world at any early age. Pavel has been involved in environmental education and ecosystem preservation since childhood. He led scouting groups and subsequently started an ecological center. Pavel is presently a member of the Czech Ornithological Society and Ringing Center of the National Museum of Prague.
Pavel credits his energy and inspiration to friends and family, who have supported his efforts throughout his on going battle with a chronic disability.